Sometimes you don’t have to travel far into the distance to discover new things 🙂 And so we came up with the idea of going to the 75-kilometre-wide town of Speyer to visit the local museum and the cathedral. Both were completely new to us.
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Things to know about the Technical Museum
The first port of call was the Technik Museum Speyer, which opened in 1991 and is only a few minutes away by car from the A5 or A6. Shortly before arrival, one crosses the Rhine and jumps from one state (Baden-Württemberg) to the next (Rhineland-Palatinate) in a matter of seconds. A few meters further on, the Technik Museum is already on the left in front of one. And at the sight, one can easily get out of hand: In addition to a few “smaller” aircraft, a huge Boeing 747 from Lufthansa dominates the terrain, which is perched several meters above the ground. A mad sight. Curiosity about the museum grew.
The museum has several parking spaces of its own. For just 2 euros you can stay here all day – really a fair price.
The Technik Museum in Speyer can be visited 365 days a year. It is usually open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Monday to Friday) or until 7 p.m. (Saturday, Sunday, holidays), with a few minor exceptions, such as Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve.
Entrance fees & combined ticket
The entrance fees for the Technik Museum vary depending on whether you still want to go to the IMEX cinema or to the sister museum in Sinsheim:
– Technology Museum Speyer: 16 Euro
– Technik Museum Speyer + IMEX Kino: 21 Euro
– Technik Museum Speyer + Sinsheim + IMEX Cinema: 38 Euro
By the way, there is also a combined ticket of the Rhein-Neckar transport association, which we find quite interesting and lucrative, even if it unfortunately had no relevance for us, because we do not live in the region. This is about the VRN experience ticket, which is a ticket (round trip) and admission ticket in one and costs only 17.50 euros, i.e. 1.50 euros more than the regular museum entrance for adults. You can leave the car for that.
Overview map of the museum
After we had parked our car and got our tickets, we were able to start. On an overview map we got familiar with the terrain and looked where to find something. After all, the museum, which is located on the territory of the former Palatinate aircraft works, has more than 25,000 m2 of covered hall area and 150,000 m2 of outdoor space. More than 70 aircraft and helicopters, 600 space exhibits, around 20 locomotives and countless other exhibits have found a home here.
Exhibitions in the Liller Halle
Since it was insanely cold outside, it was quickly decided that we would go through the first big hall before we got out. The so-called “Liller Halle” is an industrial hall from 1913, which is listed as a monument. And this is also “unfortunately” the reason why this hall should not be heated so much. Unfortunately, at minus degrees not necessarily advantageous. In the hall we could marvel at a lot of locomotives, vintage cars, motorcycles, airplanes, historic fire engines as well as a large, old carousel.
A small special feature in the hall are the 1 € vending machines:If you throw a euro in the respective vending machines before an exhibit, the exhibit is brought to life. Behind a glass pane, for example, you can watch an old locomotive set in motion and steam develop. The deafening sounds are really impressive. There are also some mechanical musical instruments that play music on request: after a payment of 1 € or 50 cents, the old organ plays well-known melodies and fills the whole hall with its music. On the second level of the Liller Halle there is a small model railway exhibition.
The outdoor area of the Technik Museum
From the Liller Halle you can reach the outdoor areaon several sides. Due to the very generous open space, one could exhibit extraordinary large exhibits here, to which one probably nowhere else can be found. Here you will find various attack helicopters, jets, airplanes, tanks, engines, ships, vehicles, railways and much more.
The highlight is definitely the Boeing 747-230 from Lufthansa, which bears the name “Schleswig-Holstein” and is very dominantly perched high above the terrain. The aircraft was originally commissioned in October 1978 and blew up a total of 16,374 times. In almost 100,000 flight hours, the old lady transports almost 5 million passengers. Numbers that sound really unimaginable. At some point, Schleswig-Holstein and its younger, more modern brothers and sisters of the Lufthansa fleet could no longer keep up, so it was discarded. Her last resting place was in March 2002 on the grounds of the Technik Museum Speyer. Spectacular lynot is that you are allowed to board the plane. Via a frame about 20 meters high, you can enter the aircraft and look at the interior on two levels. A look into the first-class, which at that time had space for 8 passengers, as well as into the very narrow cockpit is also possible – both are on the second level. From the left wing, which is accessible, you have a good overview of the museum’s grounds and the city of Speyer. You can even go to the gutted cargo hold.
Another eye-catcher is the Russian Antonov An-22, which is one of the largest propeller aircraft in the world and has been on the premises of the Technik Museum Speyer since 1999. The Antonov was originally designed as a civilian and military transport aircraft and could also land on rough terrain, i.e. in an emergency a grass runway was sufficient. Particularly impressive is the huge 33 metre long and 4.4 metre wide cargo space, which can be fully walked.
The also walkable sea cruiser John T. Essberger, who was stationed in the western Baltic Sea, was also very impressive, because the interiors are very well preserved and you can get an impression of how you have acted and lived here on the ship. The ship’s extensive facilities include a dinghy, an on-board hospital, a fire extinguishing system, a helicopter work deck and other communication and navigation facilities. It is somewhat inconceivable that the ship can accommodate about 300 shipwrecked people in an emergency, because it did not look that big.
The old houseboat of the Kelly Family probably also knows many. Since 2004, the boat has been part of the exhibition of the Technik Museum. We were a little disappointed that you can go up on the boat, but unfortunately you can’t visit the interiors.
We were particularly looking forward to the submarine U9 of the Bundesmarine, which is also one of the highlights of the museum and can be visited from the inside. But unfortunately not at the time when we were there, because the submarine is currently being serviced and is locked.
The space exhibition in Hall 2
After staying in the cold for over an hour, we were very happy that we were able to return to an exhibition hall. In addition to the Liller Halle, there is another hall, which shows about 600 exhibits of space travel on an area of more than 5,000 m2. And this from the early beginnings of the 1960s to the present time.
The highlight in the hall is the Russian space shuttle Buran 002, which hangs high up in the hall. The shuttle is 36 meters long, 16 meters high and weighs a heavy 70 tons. With the Butan project, the Russian space agency wanted to duel with the American NASA and therefore developed its own space shuttles. The space shuttles were tested until the 1980s, but at some point the Russians ran out of money. The Buran 002, which is exhibited here in the Speyer Museum, is the prototype for such a Russian space shuttle – a test object. In total, it has carried out 25 flights in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Other things that can be discovered in the space hall include the training module of the German space laboratory Spacelab, the space capsule Soyuz TM-19, a model of the Columbus research module or a replica of the Vostok 1 spacecraft. There are also space suits, a lunar car and numerous other space exhibits. After about 4 hours we left the museum half frozen but with lots of new impressions. We liked the exhibitions very much, especially the walk-in exhibits did it for us. We would recommend a whole day for a visit to the museum, because the area is really huge.
By the way, there is another museum building that you can visit with your entrance ticket: the Wilhelmsbau. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, we have not been able to do this any more. But those who are interested in mechanical musical instruments, fashions of the 18th and 19th century, artist dolls and historical weapons and uniforms interested, for which a visit is certainly worthwhile.
The Cathedral in Speyer – a UNESCO World Heritage Site
After our visit to the museum, we left the car directly on the grounds of the Technik Museum and walked along the Geibtstraße to the cathedral, which is located in the centre of Speyer. In just 10 minutes on foot we had already reached the building via the cathedral garden.
The Speyer Cathedral, which is officially called ‘Domkirche St. Maria und St. Stephan’ (Cathedral Church of St. Mary and St. Stephen), was completed and inaugurated in 1061. A few years later, however, half of the cathedral was demolished, with the aim of rebuilding it even larger. During this time, the present-day shape of the cathedral was also created. The Speyer Cathedral is today the largest surviving Romanesque church in the world and was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1981. When one stands in the interior of the cathedral, one becomes really aware of its extent: The central nave is 33 meters high up to the vault. The total length from the entrance steps to the outer wall is a proud 134 meters. Inside, the cathedral is rather sober. We have read that the cathedral has been deprived of almost all of its equipment due to destruction and looting. Only individual relics and a few distinctive pieces can still be seen.
We walked over the lively pedestrian street of Maximilianstraße directly from the cathedral into the city centre to the western city gate Altpörtel – past countless shops, boutiques, restaurants and ice cream parlours. The fact that Speyer is one of the oldest cities in Germany can also be seen when strolling through the old town. Here you will find small, sweet streets with cobblestones as well as old half-timbered houses.